Letters for August 9, 2012

Whose side is he on?

Re “Ghost tribe” (Cover story, by Marc Dadigan, Aug. 2):

Good story in the sense that it makes me aware of a deplorable situation. Building Shasta Dam wipes out most of the Winnemem Wintu tribe’s land, and they are not recognized as Indians by the great chief in Washington. Talk about being on the bottom of the ladder of life and looking down!

I don’t know about you, but I am contacting this lunkhead congressional candidate, Jim Reed, whoever that is, with a plea to recognize all Indians. Reed’s No. 2 objective on his website is “Speaking in Washington for the people of the District, rather than political parties or special interest groups.” I guess he doesn’t regard the Wintu as people, if his actions are any clue. You can email Mr. Reed at info@jimreed2012.com.

William Rowe

Editor’s note: According to sources close to the Winnemem Wintu, Jim Reed has changed his position on the dam-raising project and now opposes it. No word on federal recognition of the tribe, however.

Obama hasn’t reached out

Re “Not ready for prime time” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Aug. 2):

Thanks for pointing out Mitt Romney is not ready for “prime time,” but I will vote for him anyway. Was our current president ready for prime time? Not even close.

Come on, Mr. Speer, this has been a rough four years for our country, and the “blame Bush strategy” is finally fading. President Obama will have to work with Republicans to get our economy moving, and he has not shown me he is willing to do that.

I am not a real smart man, Mr. Speer, but I do remember the ‘90s with President Clinton, and he worked with a majority of Republicans in both houses and things were pretty good, right? Mitt Romney and the Republicans are like Noah and the Ark in the Bible: Hey man, the ark stinks, but the boat does float!

Finally, this is a great country because we have great freedoms, not because we have a big government.

Staff Sgt. Zane Lowrey

He’s ashamed of the cops

Re “Crossing a line?” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Aug. 2):

My family has always been respecters of law enforcement. We have no criminal record and never indulge in criminal activities. So it was a profound shock when my son’s home was invaded at gunpoint by several Butte County sheriff’s deputies at 1:00 a.m. on July 25.

The deputies had no warrant and no probable cause for a forced entry into their home. This invasion was witnessed by neighbors and caught on video to be posted on YouTube. The deputies broke windows and told my son, “This is a .45-caliber pointed right at your head.” Another told my daughter-in-law he was going to “grab her hair and smash her face into the floor.”

The deputies ransacked their home and then just left, with no arrests or explanation, and refused to give their names or badge numbers.

The Sheriff’s Department does not deny this incident occurred but refuses to do an investigation unless the frightened victims agree to an interrogation by the same cops who allowed this atrocity to happen.

I moved back to Chico to enjoy my family and retirement. I am deeply hurt by the violence done to my wonderful family and ashamed of the law enforcement of Butte County.

Joseph Cole

Temple an ‘amazing asset’

Re “Good-bye, Goddess Temple” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Aug. 2):

This is really a travesty! How could Butte County close down such an amazing asset to the community? There is no place like this anywhere else in the world, and we were lucky enough to have it right here in Chico!

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Knudsen/Smuckers, Bidwell Park and the Chico Goddess Temple are all positive additions to our wonderful city, and a handful of unhappy neighbors took the last one away. Sad, Sad, SAD IT IS!!!

Mary Cecile

Medi-pot pros and cons

Re “A spiteful insult to voters” (Editorial, Aug. 2) and “Board gets tougher on pot” (Downstroke, Aug. 2):

God bless the supervisors for showing the right stuff to help the voiceless who are not out to make big bucks by growing pot, which we all know is not for the sick as much as it is for the profit of those who will disrupt our peace.

A person in my neighborhood rents out his house to out-of-state people who grow, cash out and move on. It’s all for the profit. And profit is what brings these pot growers to the hearings to yell and protest, while the rest of us sit home and hope that some smart supervisors will do the right thing.

Kings County has it right, and I say, “Go, supervisors of Butte County!”

Daniel L. McCarty

These guys have the wrong “stuff” if they think they can just ignore the voters, who have already spoken. Voters approved the referendum, Measure A. Supervisors Larry Wahl of Chico, Kim Yamaguchi of Paradise and Bill Connelly of Oroville are clearly acting out of out of vindictiveness. They’re like little children who didn’t get their way, and now they want to throw a tantrum at taxpayers’ expense. Next time I vote, it will be against them. They are poor representatives of Butte County voters.

Ron Cremo

Editor’s note: For the record, and to correct an error in the CN&R’s editorial last week, voters did not approve Measure A. Rather, they voted it down, thereby overturning the county’s medical-marijuana-cultivation ordinance.

Is the Butte County Board of Supervisors on the payroll of Mexican drug cartels? Like it or not, California’s medical-marijuana law allows consumers to purchase locally grown marijuana of known quality and safety from dispensaries that generate tax revenue. At least that is what voters intended when they passed Proposition 215.

In Butte County, however, medical-marijuana dispensaries have been banned.

As long as there is a demand for marijuana, there will be a supply. Is it somehow preferable that consumers purchase untaxed marijuana from Mexican drug cartels that also sell cocaine, meth and heroin? Marijuana prohibition is a gateway-drug policy.

Robert Sharpe, MPA
Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC

Follow the charter—or else

I am so excited and hopeful because Chico Mayor Ann Schwab dedicated time during the City Council meeting on Aug. 7 to talk about how to ensure transparency in government. Wow, she must be up for re-election or something! Oh wait, she is!! Glad to hear that she finally wants transparency. I hope she also means transparency regarding the Compliance with Article IX, Section 908 of our City Charter.

According to it, “The finance director shall submit to the council through the city manager monthly statements of receipts, disbursements and balances in such form as to show the exact financial condition of the city.”

This transparency is extremely important to the taxpayers of Chico, and as a requirement in our City Charter, it is non-negotiable. [Finance Director Jennifer] Hennessy must either follow the charter or we must find a new finance director who is capable of doing so. I am not sure why Mayor Ann Schwab and City Manager Dave Burkland have let this lack of extremely important transparency continue.

This is unacceptable. Our public servants need to follow the charter and stop picking what laws they want to follow.

John Salyer

Royal pain in the purse

On the same day that the California State University trustees and state legislators both shoveled yet more money and perks into a trough for our High Administrative Class, the King of Spain took a pay cut.

What is wrong with the current crop of European royalty, anyway? This sort of an equitable move can set a very bad precedent! We all know that austerity is for the lower and middle classes, not our beloved leaders.

Believe you me, the next time there is some sort of a War of Spanish Succession or something, they will have a lot of difficulty attracting a “the best and the brightest” of royal administrators!

Gosh, don’t they get it? No wonder the euro is in crisis!

Michael Mulcahy

Art in private projects

We, the Chico Arts Commission, would like to thank Affordable Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) and PG&E for their recent investment in local public art.

On Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, two new works, a sculpture by Owen Gabbert and a tile mural by Janice Hofmann, will be dedicated at Parkside Terrace Apartments built by AHDC. This spring, PG&E contracted with artist Jeff Lindsay to install his decorative metal work to screen one of its downtown utility boxes. These art works are a result of the generosity of the private sector.

AHDC and PG&E join an ever-growing number of businesses, such as Enloe Medical Center, Kohl’s, Costco and the Hegan Lane Partnership, who over the years have included art in their private projects. Also, the Chico Mall intends to include an art component in its upcoming facelift.

Our appreciation of these investments in art is heightened with the recent loss of local redevelopment funds, which were Chico’s largest source of dollars for public art. The community has come to enjoy new public art works as they regularly emerge out of the shared landscape. We again thank AHDC and PG&E for adding to the beautification of our city, to further support our claim as one of the Top 100 Best Art Towns in America.

Monica McDaniel-Berg, Chair

Gary Baugh, Vice-Chair

Ginny Crawford, Muir Hughes

Geri Mahood, Tray Robinson

Lucille Wanee

The cost of inequality

The book The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, points out that moving money from the bottom to the top through taxes, etc., lowers consumer demand because those at the top spend less of their income.

He argues that inequality is a source of inadequate consumer demand and instability. Less inequality in the United States would increase demand and productivity.

He also says that government austerity will not get us out of our problem, (I thought it might). He says that the current administration is starting to recognize this problem and the Republicans are not.

Extreme income inequality is really a kind of cancer that infects almost every aspect of our social, political, economic and even legal system. A tiny elite is able to effectively purchase laws and regulations that work in its favor.

The wealth inequality (assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) is even greater than income inequality. Worse still, the quality of life, health benefits and job security has drastically deteriorated for most Americans since 1979.

If you are too lazy, like me, to buy and read the book (I saw him on C-Span Books), go to Amazon.com and read the reviews. This book is especially important to the 99 percent crowd!

Norm Dillinger

Grow-lights pollution

Re “Board gets tougher on pot” (Downstroke, Aug. 2):

Did the supervisors consider a light ordinance? Our next-door neighbors are very nice people keeping to themselves. They said they are growing tomatoes in a white plastic greenhouse in the middle of the forest in a residential neighborhood, and their grow lights light up the sky and the forest as if a major planet settled in with full-on lighting at 3 a.m. in the morning.

Whatever they are growing, this is very inconsiderate. Lights out at 10 p.m. would be good. They even check on their grow and must be a little hard of hearing, as their voices carry in the night at 3 a.m.

I would like to keep my name from being published for obvious reasons of not wanting my neighbor to become adversary.

Name withheld

Preserve the Estes triangle

Editor’s note: This letter greatly exceeds the 250-word limit for CN&R print publication, so we’re publishing it in this online version only.

I write with intent to preserve the current Greenline, specifically in regard to the Estes triangle. (I come to praise farmers, not to frustrate them.)

As a third-generation Kansas farm boy, growing up within an extended family of uncles and aunts and my cousins—all living within three miles of our great-grandfather’s original farmstead—I know from experience the difference between gumbo ground and rich river loam.

As a graduate of Chico State in ag science–soils and irrigation, I came to appreciate the qualities that make up the treasure that is the Sacramento River Valley and its world-class agricultural soils.

In my conservation work with the USDA Soil Conservation Service, that appreciation, knowledge, and experience grew.

For 10 years I farmed several acres next to Comanche Creek in the Estes triangle. I sold at several local farmers’ markets and five years ago formed the first CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm in Butte County. I know first-hand how productive that rich and giving land is.

And now, with close to three decades of community involvement, I find myself deeply involved in fighting the obesity and diabetes pandemic that has infected our citizens, especially our children, and has swept this nation with a plague of ignorance and unresponsiveness.

I believe that locally grown food, field to table, vegetable of the month, farmer of the month, school gardens, local and fresh produce-based school lunch programs, home and community gardens, and extensive nutrition education—and exercise opportunities—are essential parts of the solution. Much education groundwork has been accomplished, but both professional and volunteer efforts are consistently hamstrung by the lagging public policy of our institutions and social customs.

The grandmas that feed their grandchildren sodas and ice cream or treat them to fast food are by their exploited nature the pandered bad witches of these flawed policies. I do not blame the mothers or the grandmothers. Today, a huge portion of our kids grow up sick, maimed, with foreshortened lives because a majority of citizens cannot recognize through the weedy brambles of profit-driven public-relations campaigns and their isolated urban lives that fresh fruits and vegetables are valued and proper food for humans and the manna expression of love.

This public policy inertia demonstrates almost universal public-policy failures. Schools have demonstrated the failure of education. Religious institutions have demonstrated the failure of religions. Businesses have demonstrated the failure of capitalistic venture. National, state, regional, county and city government demonstrate the failure of governance. These failures are utter failures because they cause our own children to sicken and die right in front of us. (How do you define failure?)

As the founder and executive director of cChaos, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we are daily faced with the public-policy hurdles to bringing opportunities for healthy lifestyle change to our community. Policy is stacked in favor of sickness and debilitation. Which brings me back to the Estes triangle.

For decades I have accepted the premise that we need a buffer between ag and city. That buffer is best constructed of small-scale, farm-to-table food production units (small farms) that serve to instruct and inform consumers of the realities of agricultural life and provide a community connection with the earth and local natural environment and resources. And that is exactly how at least some of the Estes triangle has served the Chico community for the last couple of decades.

When I farmed at Riparia I often had school visitors, preschool through post-graduates, come and visit the farm, volunteer, etc. Many adults simply used it as a form of meditation to come out once a week or so and spend some time weeding or doing some other simple chores. Always this was a form of healing and rejuvenation—and this connection to the earth, place and home was the missing link to their personal and individual health. Such relationships are a natural remedy to the ills of urban life and living.

A railroad track does not do the trick or work that magic.

As I said before, field-to-table direct food systems are elemental to curing the obesity and type 2 diabetes pandemic. One such venue for that type of delivery system is the certified farmers’ markets. But while the number of certified farmers’ markets is dramatically increasing, the age of the average farmer in also increasing. If current trends and the policies that control those trends remain the same, then we have long ago surpassed peak healthy food production.

Unlike peak oil though, small-scale sustainable produce production and delivery is a renewable resource. And the Estes triangle is ideally positioned to serve as a nursery for growing just that kind of treatment and cure. But saving the Estes triangle from urban development is not a cure in itself.

I have written fairly extensively elsewhere about the economic stimulus this and surrounding counties ignore while our economy declines.

Right now Butte County has something like 12 farmers’ markets. That is perhaps more farmers’ markets per capita than any other county in the nation. Many of these markets, like the ones I manage, are struggling. The problem, though, is not too many farmers’ markets, but not enough customers in those markets, and not enough farmers to produce and sell at those markets.

Preserving the Estes triangle is one step in a long road of policy solutions that must be implemented if we are going to stop failing our community, if we are going to stop killing our kids.

The Northern California Regional Land Trust has a program with access to funding to purchase the development rights to properties like those in the Estes triangle that are threatened by development. That is, land owners are compensated for the dollar differences between the value of the land as development property and its agricultural value.

As I understand it, the trust has funding for only projects preserving land in contiguous units of 100 acres or more. By joining together with their neighboring landowners in the Estes triangle, it is possible that together they, with city and county support, could secure such funds. The trust is also developing programs for facilitating land acquisition or access for new and beginning farmer/ranchers, and this last year completed a series of excellent workshops for new and beginning farmer/ranchers—two of which I attended.

It is through development, expansion and community collaborations on projects and policies like these that we can address the full range of critical community needs. I am convinced that preserving the Estes Triangle for an agricultural buffer and transition zone between urban and rural areas is one such essential element.

I support and look forward to fair and equitable solutions to these disputes through community collaborative efforts.

Richard H. Roth